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Life-and-death struggle for Iraq
Only people outside Iraq bother to argue about whether what is happening here is a civil war.
Inside, they know how bad things are; they don't need to attach a label to it.
This is my eighth visit to Baghdad in the space of 13 months, and things are worse now than I have ever seen them.
The deliberate, well-planned efforts by extremists to provoke the Shia Muslim community into violence against Sunni Muslims have been depressingly successful.
Murder gangs have retaliated again and again against the Sunni community. Some Shia clerics are no longer so outspoken against these tit-for-tat killings.
Anger and bitterness
Yet senior Iraqi politicians have not reached the point of despair. They acknowledge that things are bad and may well get worse, but they still feel there are some grounds for hope.
Chief among these is the fact that many Iraqis, perhaps the majority, are not prepared to see the country break up into its constituent parts.
Opinion polls have repeatedly shown that most Sunnis and Shia actively want to continue living alongside each other.
Anyone who spent time, as I did, in the former Yugoslavia before the civil wars of the early 1990s will remember the bitterness between the different ethnic groups, and the contempt for the old Yugoslav system, too, which had failed so badly.
Iraq is different. The layout of the country may have been imposed on its people by the League of Nations, under British prompting, only 86 years ago, yet it has not failed, as Yugoslavia (which was formed at roughly the same time) failed.
What happened was that US and British forces invaded Iraq in 2003 and smashed the state, causing an anger and bitterness which the Bush administration and the Blair government have never acknowledged.
Last Friday, as the intercommunal violence reached new heights, some Sunnis and Shias prayed together to show their determination to keep the country working.
Many moderate Iraqis now believe the US and British presence here is distinctly irrelevant.